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Weather That is Needed For Perfect Snowmobile Trails

Posted by Christopher Weiland on

With all this early season snow, every snowmobiler’s excitement level rises. Some throw caution to the wind and ride on the first snowfall. I don’t blame you, and we don’t pay $15k+ a snowmobile now to sit in a garage. While we love seeing the white stuff on the ground early on, it could hinder conditions later in the season and create some unsafe scenarios. We are going to look at what conditions make ideal conditions for our trails.

1st. We need some stable cold weather to put frost in the ground. Snow acts as an insulator, and if we get it too soon, it will be difficult for frost to penetrate and freeze the ground. The warm ground makes it more difficult for snow to stick around long term as warm-ups will cause it to melt from the top and bottom. Early snow on waterways with ice that hasn’t had a chance to develop is also a hindrance, again the snow acts as an insulator and slows ice development and gives way to the potential for dangerously thin spots to build. Another drawback of early snow is when we ride on it and give the throttle some love, we reach the unfrozen ground and tear it up. Most of our trails are on private property, and seeing their land tore up can make it less likely for them to continue their land lease.

2nd. Now that we have had our solid freeze and our ground is frozen, and lakes have thick ice, it’s time for our base. It is one of the most challenging things as a good base needs a substantial snowfall close to the freezing level. Way too many times have we had our dreams crushed when we get rain instead of that heavy wet snow. The perfect scenario is for the wet, heavy snow to come before a deeper freeze. Having that dense snow become hard is key to the snow base lasting and setting the tone for the right conditions on future snowfalls.

3rd. Finally, the table is made, and chances are the base was enough to snowmobile on its own once the trails open, but if there aren’t any more snowfalls to replenish the base, it will get destroyed. At this point, all we need is snow. It does not matter if it’s wet, heavy snow or if it’s the light fluff. There have been many times like last snow season in Southern Wisconsin, for example, where we got the replenishing snow before there was a chance for a base to develop. Despite all the snow, the wind and riders pretty much took all the snow we received and displaced it from the trail resulting in lean conditions and chiseled plowed fields that are more fit for a Jeep than your snowmobile.

To break it down for ideal trail conditions, we need a solid freeze before any snowfall. We then need heavy wet snow to provide a base for future snowfalls to build upon. We then need consistent replenishing snowfalls to keep the trails fresh.

As you are probably thinking right now, this never happens. Something is usually out of whack, and our snowpack is under threat from everything. Even if it doesn’t warm up or get beat up by the sun, snow will disappear via evaporation. That’s right, any possible way to leave our precious trails it will. When one of these three factors is out of wack, it creates less predictable conditions such as ice or unfrozen trails in swamps. That’s why we make our traction products, it is to make this sport a little more predictable and enjoyable, despite unfavorable conditions. When you find that icy corner or need traction in a dire situation, we are here to help you.

Now let’s hope this season we get those elusive conditions and pile on those miles on our sleds!

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